Arts & Culture

KCUR’s Arts & Culture Desk covers arts news from music to visual art to dance and theater, with a focus on Kansas and Missouri.

Our reporters explore the behind-the-scene stories about newsmakers and emerging artists. We also take a look at the intersections of arts and technology, science and creativity, and present profiles of creative people. 

A talk with the creator and director of two new shows that are premiering at the Kansas City Fringe Festival this weekend. One show was inspired by a box of old letters; the other by folk music.

Plus: there used to be a poor farm at 119th and Ridgeview Road; it was another time period's model for helping the homeless. The story of Johnson County's poor farm and the attitude towards poverty that it represents.

Guests:

Cowboy music is not the same as country-western. A talk with some of the musicians of 3 Trails West — one of the few practitioners of true cowboy music in Kansas City.

Plus: the legendary history of the "Big Red One" (1st Infantry Division). Based at Fort Riley, Kansas, it's the longest continuously-serving division in the United States Army ... and it recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Guests:

John Evans / iconoclastofthings.com

It's hot out, which means you're probably spending a lot of time indoors... Running low on podcasts? Fear not! Our panel of in-house audio nerds joins us with their top podcast recommendations this season. Plus, the story behind new Kansas City podcast 'Iconoclast of Things.'

And, we take a moment to remember our own, broadcast legend Steve Bell, who passed away a year ago today.

Guests:

Todd Feeback / ShadowLight Images

At his sculptor's stand, paleoartist Gary Staab adjusted the expression on a 125-million-year-old predator in pursuit of prey.

Dave Loewenstein

Jul 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / www.paulandrewsphotography.com

He's traveled around the Midwest to translate other people's stories into art that lives on city walls. Now we hear muralist Dave Loewenstein's story.

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The story of the Wizard of Oz has inspired people for generations. And now it’s back again, this time as an animated series on the Boomerang channel. We talk to the actress who plays Dorothy about her journey from small-town Kansas to being the voice behind "the ultimate Kansas girl."

 

The federal government is the largest employer in Kansas City. Who are these employees and what do they do? A talk with federal employees in the Midwest, and what the government looks like from their perspective.

Plus, a local artist is reviving the video store. She operates a VHS lending library out of her bedroom, and she'll be going mobile to bring VHS tapes across the plains.

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The similarities between Native American and Middle Eastern cultures, as told by poets in a new anthology that was published here. Then, two of the musicians from the local band Making Movies; their new album, I Am Another You, just made it onto the Billboard and Billboard Latin Charts.

Guests:

Christopher Bulle / Flickr -- CC

A local fashion designer put out a call to see if people would be interested in sewing lessons. The answer was a resounding yes. In a time when clothes are so cheap that they're practically disposable, we look into why there's a renewed interest in making and mending garments.

Plus, the National Storytelling Network's big annual conference kicks off in KC today. We hear from one of the participants.

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A photographer discusses her new book about homelessness in Johnson County, and a comics artist shares his thoughts on the trials and tribulations of the creative process.

Plus: an encore presentation our award-winning piece about a man who learns how to hear again after years of deafness.

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How do communities come together to share information and solve problems? From searching for a missing child to neighbors cleaning up after a storm, we look at how people take action — and whether changes in technology have affected how they solve problems.

Guests:

José Faus

Jun 16, 2017
Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3

When he first immigrated to KC from Colombia at age 9, it was a shock. Since then, he's become a mainstay in Kansas City's art community as a poet, painter, playwright and mentor. On this show, we get to know José Faus.

Guest:

FHKE / Flickr -- CC

There's been a lot of talk about the future of Kansas City International Airport. We take a step back from that debate and explore what KCI says about us as a city.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It's an iconic summer activity, especially in KC: pulling your car into a big gravel lot and watching movies under the stars.

In a time where there are so many ways to consume media, we examine the appeal of the drive-in ... and look at the past, present and future of this particular type of movie theater.

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The 25th annual Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is coming soon, and this year, playing the lead in Hamlet is Nathan Darrow, who you may recognize from the Netflix series "House of Cards." We hear about his new role, then meet the family behind Kansas City's Juneteenth Festival, coming up June 17.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

When Tim Lona was a teenager, he pestered his dad for a car.

“He was like ‘Hey, I'm not going to buy you one. You have to build your own. There's a '64 Impala in back that I'll give you,’” Lona said.So, with help from his family, he rebuilt the car from the ground up.

Since then, Lona has restored and rebuilt hundreds of cars at his family’s shop on Southwest Boulevard. He comes from a three-generation family of mechanics, and the shop has been in its location in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood since 1912.

How a Congolese sculpture, now on display at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, inspired one American artist to explore a new style and tap into her own spirituality.

Plus why self-described "adventure artist" Steve Snell set sail on the Missouri River . . . in a cardboard boat.

Guests:

SFS Architecture

The doors of the old King Louie West Lanes bowling alley and ice skating rink have been closed to the public since 2009. On Saturday, the iconic building will reopen, this time as the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center.

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

A look at some of the exciting art stuff coming up in June: a local reggae band that's performing at the Crossroads Jammin' Reggae Fest, then the artist known as Boi Boy, whose show, "Select Username and Password" opens tonight.

Plus: remember writing letters? Actual handwritten ones? We'll talk with the owner of a Lawrence print shop who created a monthly letter-writing club.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

The art of lowriding in Kansas City, then local high school students share how they covered politics and the presidential election in their yearbooks.

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A KC native has made a documentary, black enuf*, which is about a quest for belonging ... and for an answer to the question of what it means to be black enough. Then, a look at how e-commerce is changing the physical layouts of our cities.

Guests:

  • Carrie Hawks, filmmaker
  • Derrick Choi, Senior Architect/Principal, Populous

Remembering the life of gallery owner Tom Deatherage, who passed away yesterday.

How does an artist see water? Two local artists explore the Missouri River; their work appears in Tributary, an exhibit at La Esquina Gallery.

Then, a newly-minted college grad returns home to KCK to give back.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Do you need a license to braid hair? Missouri, like other states, believes that you do. We look at the impact of a law that crosses issues of race, gender and economy.

Plus: we've all heard of the Kansas-Missouri border war, but what about Missouri's border war with ... Iowa? It all started over honey.

Guests:

Camille Brecht

A couple of years ago, musician Greg Wickham was on a walk with his wife when she asked what he thought was a strange question.

“‘If you were to die tomorrow, is there anything you haven’t done that you would regret?’” he recalled. “I told her the only thing that I would really regret is never having recorded a solo record.

“And it was kind of quiet for a second and she said, ‘Well, you need to get into the studio, then.’”

That conversation helped inspire Wickham’s first solo album, “If I Left This World.”

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Meet two violinists. One started Kansas City's tango scene before moving to Argentina, and the other is a prominent jazz fiddler. Then, hear the story behind the song, "Under the Sun."

Guests:

Courtesy of Gracie Schram

The artist: Gracie Schram

The song: Under The Sun

Background: Gracie Schram of Leawood, Kansas, has been writing songs since she was a little girl. She released her first album when she was 10 years old. And this past year has been busy and full of change. She graduated high school from Blue Valley North, released the album Dear Fall, and started college in Nashville, Tennessee.

The clowns are coming to town! That's right, there's a Clown Convention happening in the Northland this week. We check in with a few locals on the art and lifestyle of being a clown.

Plus, musician Greg Wickham joins us to talk about his new album "Almost to Springfield."

Guests:

Candice Millard

Apr 14, 2017
Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

She's a bestselling author who has written books about James Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. We talk with Candice Millard about how she found her niche of writing about the lesser-known incidents in a historical figure's life, and how her work and her life have intersected.

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Can the arts survive without federal funding? With the potential elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, a look at how Brownback's Kansas might be a test case for art ... and a model for the rest of the country.

Guests:

Claire Tadokoro / KCUR 89.3

Since its establishment in 1997, the Charlotte Street Foundation has distributed over $1.1 million to provide resources for Kansas City artists, including unrestricted grants and free exhibition and studio space. Today we examine what impact the foundation has had in strengthening and maintaining existing local talent, and in attracting it from around the country.

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